Mort waited up for Chauncy, with the two glasses and the Calvados sitting on the bar. Chauncy came at his usual time and Mort helped him haul in the boxes. After they were unloaded with the empty boxes by the door, Mort poured them both a drink.
“You look like you have something on your mind. Is that why you were quiet when I came in?”
“That and I have a guest. She’s also the issue.”
“Over staying her welcome?”
“Not in the least. Remember the caveman I told you about?”
“The one Theo killed? Yes. Did it cause problems?”
“It seems as if it did.” He told Chauncy Lana’s story. At the end of it, Chauncy downed his drink.
“That’s terrible news.”
“Is there any thing we can do to help?”
“I don’t know, but I need to find out what else happened due to the caveman dying. I wasn’t able to find anything in our systems after you told me about it, but with her information, I might be able to find out more.”
“Do you want to talk to her? We don’t have to tell her who you are, but we can say you need her help.”
Chauncy thought or a moment, then nodded. “I need information that is easier to get straight from her. If she is here now, do you mind waking her?”
“Sure. One moment.”
Mort went to the second bedroom and knocked on the door. He kept knocking until Lana came to the door and yanked it open.
“I’m terribly sorry to wake you, but there is someone here that needs your help.”
“My help. Why?” She rubbed her eyes to try and wake up.
“He can explain better than I can.”
“Fine. Give me a moment. And I’ll need some coffee.”
Mort left and Lana closed the door. He went to make coffee and by the time it was brewing, she was in the main room, walking toward Chauncy.
“Are you the person who needs my help?”
Chauncy stood and held out his hand. Lana shook his hand. “I’m Chauncy.”
They took seats at the bar as Mort brought over a cup of coffee for Lana. He indicated the Calvados bottle but Chauncy declined. Mort put the bottle away and looked to Chauncy.
“Do you need privacy, Chauncy?”
“You can stay, Mort.”
Mort nodded and stood nearby, but let the two talk.
“How can I help you?” Lana looked skeptical.
“I cannot tell you all the reasons why, but I need the names of your ancestors. I need to be able to trace their existence, or non-existence as the case may be.”
Lana gave him a quizzical look. “Why?”
“I cannot tell you that.”
She folded her hands on the bar top and took a deep breath. “I’m a researcher, Chauncy. That was my job in my time. Research history and help make sure we humans, as a species, do not lose any of it. In my time, there’s no more of this ‘the winner writes the history’ bullshit that happened throughout most of the history before now. If you can tell me anything that would help me understand why I need to help you, I would appreciate that. My curiosity is running wild.”
He looked at her stoic face, at Mort’s surprised one, then took a deep breath. He thought of what he could say and how to say it, then nodded. “In my time, well into the future, there is time travel. I need the names to find out how badly time was damaged by the caveman dying. I wasn’t able to find anything before, but with the names of your family, I may be able to find a lot.” He placed a gentle hand on Lana’s arm. “I may be able to correct what has happened.”
She nodded. “All right.” Lana looked to Mort. “Do you have pen and paper?”
Mort nodded, went into the back room and came back with paper and pen. Lana took a long time to write out all the names. She even wrote out the name of the town in Germany where the caveman remains had been found and the year. After she handed over the list, Chauncy started to question her on the dates of birth and death. At that point, Mort excused himself and asked Lana to turn off the lights when Chauncy left. He was tired and knew there was nothing more he could do.
It took Chauncy two months to come back with information. He made his regular visits, but was not able to give any more information on Lana and her family during those visits. With Chauncy’s approval, Mort let Lana know when the man came to the bar. She told Mort to let her know if he had news, but she usually stayed in her room and slept when he visited. Lana wanted to know when and if he had information, and didn’t see the point in being up every time.
While waiting for information, Lana visited other times with the other regulars. She only stayed for a day or two, mostly to see what historians missed. She didn’t know if she would go back to her time, and her life, but she wanted to be ready anyway. Theo offered to have her visit his time, but she declined. Lana told Mort later she blamed Theo for her predicament, because he killed the caveman. Mort didn’t argue. He felt it was the bar’s fault, but perhaps she didn’t want to see it that way, as she was stuck with the bar.
When Chauncy finally had information, he came into the bar in his usual way, with boxes to unload. Once the two were empty and Mort had poured him a drink, Chauncy looked to the back.
“I have news for her.”
“It’s not good, is it?”
Chauncy shrugged. “I can’t tell you that. Only she can be the judge. Please wake her.”
“Of course.” Mort was back moments later with Lana. She looked a little scared.
“Hello, Lana. Would you care to take a seat?” Chauncy indicated the stool next to him.
“Yeah. Mort can I have coffee, but with something in it?”
“Of course.” He went about his business as Lana sat down.
“Please remember, I cannot tell you a lot of how I found this information.”
“That’s fine. What did you find out?”
“The caveman was in fact your ancestor. When he died, your father’s line went with it. The thing is, removing him from the timeline has not done too much damage. Many people think that somewhere in their timeline, one of their ancestors or one of their heirs would end up being famous or doing something history changing. Sadly, that is not the case. Most people, most families have nothing special about them other than the love they share for each other. I followed all the time lines of all the people in your history. No one in your family was a history maker. And though some seemed to have inspired others to greatness, once your father’s line left history, the inspiration was found through others.”
She looked at Chauncy with a blank look for a while, processing all the information before answering. “I guess I kind of figured that out, but still. It’s weird to hear it from someone else.”
“Unfortunately, having a family such as yours means that I am not allowed to restore it.”
“Ok, but wait. Did I get saved from oblivion because of this bar? I mean, that’s what I figured, but I wasn’t sure.”
“A Bar Called Always is out of sync with time. Since you were here when your ancestor died, you were saved from oblivion. The bad part of all of it is that you know what happened.”
“So, what happens now? I can’t keep living here.”
“That depends on you.”
“You’re making it sound like I have choices.” A part of her was intrigued, but she didn’t think there were any choices.
“We would have to lie, but you can come with me. Live in my time. We’re used to Time Wanderers. The only problem with that: you would no longer have free access to this place. If you did come here, it would have to be with me.”
Lana gave him a quizzical look. “When do you come from?”
“The 61st century. Time is thought of differently where I am, but for you, it would still be that. We need historians. You could work with me.”
“Should I ask what you do?”
“You can, but I am not able to give you an answer yet. Also, Lana, please understand, if you did come back with me, there are many rules and laws you could never break. Things you could never say to anyone, not even here.”
“That’s why I’m still thinking about it. Look, could I live in another era? Or could I go back to my time and have someone help me reconfigure the chip to give me a new identity?”
Chauncy shook his head. “You could contaminate the time line.”
“Can you see that?”
“In a way, yes. If you went to another time, you would not be able to have a family. If you came back with me, we could watch and make sure you were with someone who could help you not make ripples.”
She opened her mouth to ask questions on how he knew that, but shook her head instead. She stayed silent for a few minutes, looking at a spot behind Chauncy. Finally, she met his eyes again. “I need time to think.”
“All right. I’m going back to bed. I need to rest.”
“Good night, Lana.” Chauncy’s voice was kind.
Mort came out from the kitchen and nodded to Lana as she passed. She waved to him but said nothing. Mort went to Chauncy but didn’t say anything until he heard Lana’s door close.
“Can you get in trouble if you take her?”
“No, people have been pulled out of time before and end up in my century. Sometimes we’re able to find their timeline, sometimes we are not. If someone’s life leaves ripples in the Time Stream, then we take them home. If it does not, we ask them if they want to stay with us so that we can learn about their time.”
“With all the research you did on her, no one will know her true history?”
He sighed. “My dear Morton, I am far too careful to get caught.” He snorted. “Far too paranoid as well.” He looked Mort in the eyes. “I am very careful. And even if I get caught, it would not affect her or this bar. This bar seems to protect itself.”
“I was more worried about Lana.”
“I understand, but you needn’t. I will make sure she’s safe.”
“What happens if she doesn’t go with you?”
There was sadness in Chauncy’s eyes. “I would rather not contemplate that. Do what you can to convince her to come with me, Mort. It’s her only chance.”
“Are you sure? What if she went to another time and never had children?”
Chauncy took a moment to think. “There are still dangers with that, but we might be able to work something out for her.” He nodded. “Yes. Yes, I think we could.”
“Thank you for thinking it over, Chauncy.”
He nodded and stood. “It’s time for me to go. I’ll be back as usual next week, but let her know she can take all the time she needs.”
“You’re welcomed here any time, Chauncy.” Mort stuck his hand out.
Chauncy took Mort’s hand and shook it. “Always a pleasure, Mort.”
The men smiled at each other and Chauncy left for the night. Mort finished cleaning up and went to bed, hoping that Lana would be able to find a good solution to her life.